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Insomnia

pink alarm clock - a short story about Kurt Cobain

Here’s a poem / piece of writing giving you an insight into what goes on in my mind at night….

One times two is two
Two times two is four

‘It’s a shame Wilfred cannot invent something to stop the rain,’ joked Mrs Underhill to Mr Beckett during their usual night-time get-together.
‘I don’t think God would approve of that,’ he replied.
She raised her eyebrow at him, knowing full well that Mr Beckett was firmly atheist.
I wonder if I should sit up and write that down. It’s a much better conversation than the one I’ve already written in my novel. I decide I’m too tired, and will just have to hope I remember it in the morning.
I never do.
I sigh and start again.

One times two is two
Two times two is four
Three times two is six
I wish he’d stop snoring. Can I put the blame on him for keeping me awake?
Four times two is eight….

Three times three is nine
Four times three is twelve
I ate too much today. I work out the total calories and begin to plan tomorrow’s meals and exercise. I’m so sick of that zumba dvd. If I take the dog for an extra long walk and find time to tackle some of the brambles, can I get away with not doing the zumba?
Shit. Back to the beginning.

One times two is two
Two times two is four

Those are the rules. More than four sentences in my head and I have to go back to the beginning of that number. More than a couple of minutes of unplanned thought and I have to start at twos again. I give it half an hour to fall asleep in the first place, and then start the tables. I have a bargain with myself: If I reach the end of twelves, I’m allowed to pick up my laptop. Seven out of ten times it works.

Eight times six is
I pause. That’s the hardest of them all in my opinion.

Eight times six is forty-eight
Nine times six is fifty-four….

I think to myself that I could write a poem or something about this.

Oh no, I reach the eights; I’ve usually fallen asleep by the end of sevens.
Eight times eight is sixty-four
Nine times eight is seventy-two
Shall I sit up and get some work done? Is my brain up to that or shall I just look at facebook?

I hear a noise outside and open my eyes. The security light’s on. I sneak out of bed and peek through the curtains – just in case. There’s actually someone there! A young man – he looks like he’s keeping watch and I hear a distinct noise in the living room downstairs. “Wake up,’ I shake Chris. ‘There’s someone in the house. You call the police; I’ll sort out the kids.’ Do I have time to put on my nightdress? Which child first? Jude is nearest the stairs – she’ll need to be first. Rain is harder to wake up. I give them Rain’s duvet to keep warm and a phone and push them into the bathroom. ‘Don’t worry, the police are on their way,’ I say as calmly as possible. ‘Lock the door, put the phone on silent and keep as quiet as possible.’ Jude is understandably terrified and is silently crying. Rain is still too asleep for the situation to have sunk in.
I hear someone near the door at the bottom of the stairs. I grab something heavy to hit him with and stand at the top, ready. Luckily I did have time to put on my nightdress – I wish it had been pyjamas, but that would have taken too long. And shoes to kick him better. Am I ready for this? Do I have the guts for this? The latch clicks, the door opens and a man stands below me. I see his face clearly.
‘What are you doing there?’ he asks.
‘I’m at the top. You’re at the bottom. I have the advantage – first rule of combat.’ I sound much braver than I feel. I raise my arm; if he comes any closer I’ll strike him with whatever it is I picked up. What did I pick up? What do we have upstairs that I could use to hit someone with? I can’t think of anything. He probably has a knife and I don’t have anything! There must be something up here. I start to panic.
That’s enough.
I open my eyes wide and put a stop to it. I reach out for my glasses and instinctively place my hand on them. Then I pick up a cushion from the floor to prop up my head slightly, and as quietly and slowly as possible so as not to disturb Chris, I reach for my laptop and place it on my chest. I’m now quick with the screen dimmer button so I don’t blind myself with the dazzling light when I open it up.
I have another rule: If I imagine something horrible, I try to snap myself out of it as soon as possible; forget the tables and immediately look at something distracting on the internet. (Usually hunting for bargain rolls of silk or antique dresses on ebay.) I don’t know why I do it, and I can’t afford a psychologist to tell me. Last time Chris died on his way back from Weybridge. The time before, I hadn’t been able to sleep, so I decided to do the shopping at the 24 hour Tescos in the middle of the night. On the way home I had a car crash and was critically injured and taken to hospital and Chris woke up the next day having no idea where I was. The time before that, three masked men with machine guns broke into our hypothetical apartment in California looking for drugs. The last one sounds more imaginative, but still quite possible.

At half-past two, three, four or even five; I get up, go to the loo; stroke the cat and get back into bed.
I try again.

One times two is two…

Short stories and Poems, Writing,
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